Points of interest
Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge: Once a free-flowing river system, Big Lake NWR was changed to a lake / swamp ecosystem by the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12. Big Lake today consists primarily of wooded swamps and open water. The lake is shallow with an average depth of three feet and is bordered by a virgin cypress-tupelo swamp with some black willow and buttonbush. Smartweed, American lotus and water lily characterize the herbaceous wetland plants. Tree species on higher ground include cottonwood, green ash, hackberry, red maple, sycamore, river birch and a variety of oaks. 2274 Highway 18, Manila, AR 72442. (870) 564-2429
Delta Gateway Museum: Housed in the historic Kress Building in the heart of Blytheville’s Commercial Historic District, this regional heritage museum illustrates broad historical themes in one of the world’s most fertile agricultural regions. Planned exhibitions focus on the development of cotton, soybean, and rice agriculture, along with interrelated topics such as the timber industry and swamp drainage; river, rail, and highway transportation; earthquakes, flooding, and flood control; prehistoric Native American culture; and the regional impact of the Air Force base and steel industry. 210 West Main Street, Blytheville, AR 72315. Hours: Wednesday – Friday 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (870) 824-2346
Hampson Archeological Museum State Park: Hampson Archeological Museum State Park in northeast Arkansas exhibits a nationally renowned collection from the Nodena site, a 15-acre palisaded village that once thrived on a meander bend of the Mississippi River in what is today Mississippi County. Hampson Archeological Museum interprets the lifestyles of this farming-based civilization that lived there from A.D. 1400 to 1650. Artifacts and exhibits share the story of this early aboriginal population of farmers who cultivated crops and supplemented their food resources with hunting native game while developing its art, religion and political structure along with a thriving trading network.This remarkable collection owes its preservation to the late Dr. James K. Hampson and his family. 2 Lake Drive, Wilson, AR 72395. Hours: Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed Monday (except Monday holidays), New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Eve through Christmas Day. (870) 655-8622
Historic Greyhound Bus Depot Visitor Center: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is believed to be only one of three of its kind still in existence. Built in 1939, the building houses local tourist information center and headquarters for Main Street Blytheville. 109 North 5th Street, Blytheville, AR 72315. (870) 763-2525
Marked Tree Delta Area Museum: Behind a late 1800s general store facade, this museum has a replica of a small-town community hospital and an early history gallery that includes Indian pottery from the 13th century and telephone exhibits from the early 1900s. 308 Frisco Street, Marked Tree, AR 72365. (870) 358-4998
Mississippi County Museum: Located on the mighty Mississippi River, right on Highway 61-a historical highway that follows the river into Louisiana, and just off Interstate 55, the museum incorporates everything that is interesting to history buffs, but also caters to the latest in agriculture and technology. Hours: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 209 W. Hale, Osceola, AR 72370. (870) 281-7583 or (870) 563-6161
Museum Lepanto USA: Housed in a 1915 bank building; contains exhibits of early days of Northeast Arkansas area; Native American relics; reproduction of a general store, blacksmith shop, doctor’s office; Civil War military memorabilia. Hours: Open Wednesday & Friday afternoons 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., or anytime upon request. 248 Greenwood Ave, Lepanto, AR 72354. (870) 475-6166
Sans Souci Landing: Located along the banks of the Mississippi River, the scenic park is situated on the site of the former Sans Souci plantation. The 1854 plantation served as a hospital during the Civil War when the Union fleet docked nearby. Sans Souci means “without care” or “no worries” in French. Other historical markers are located in the park, including one dedicated to Mark Twain’s Plum Point Landing and Overlook (Plum Point was the name of the town until it became Osceola in 1853), which was mentioned in “Life on the Mississippi.” The park also offers free ramp access to the Mississippi River. GPS: N35.6540075 W89.9543841 Arkansas Highway 198, Osceola, AR 72370. (870) 563-2281
The Painted House Movie Set: The original movie set farmhouse, used in the 2003 Hallmark Hall of Fame film production of “A Painted House,” is open for tours. The house is patterned after the Arkansas boyhood home of novelist John Grisham, who wrote “A Painted House.” Many items used in making the movie are displayed in the vintage-looking house constructed for the film. Greenwood Avenue and East Oak Street, Lepanto, AR 72354. (870) 475-2384
Southern Tenant Farmers Museum: The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum in Tyronza opened in 2006 in the historic Mitchell-East Building. During the 1930s, this building housed the dry cleaning business of H. L. Mitchell and the service station of Clay East, two of the organizers of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union in 1934. Their building served as the unofficial headquarters for the union until offices were moved to Memphis for safety. Museum exhibits, located in the Mitchell-East Building, focus on the farm labor movement in the South and the tenant farming and sharecropping system of agriculture. The museum also includes the adjacent historic Tyronza Bank building. Facades of the bank and the Mitchell-East Building have been restored to their 1930s appearance, while the bank interior has been modified to include a reception area, gift shop, and office. 117 Main Street, Tyronza, Arkansas 72386. Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday – By reservation only, Thursday -Saturday 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM (870) 487-2909.
Wilson Cafe: 2 Jefferson, Wilson, Arkansas 72395. (870) 655-0222. Chef Joe Cartwright, formerly of the Elegant Farmer in Memphis, serves up an eclectic menu including seafood, barbecue ribs, catfish. Read the reviews on Tripadvisor.